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Check out our latest tips for looking after your mental health.

What's Getting in the Way of My Wellbeing?

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Life has many ups and downs. Each day we are faced with challenges, and some days are much harder than others. It can be common over time for stress to build upand take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing. The good news is, by identifying the barriers to our wellbeing and trying to engage in small, deliberate actions for our mental health, we can start to feel better. Over time we can learn to feel less impacted by stress and change.   

Small Actions for our Wellbeing 

Experts suggest we should make space each day for small actions to improve our mental health and wellbeing. These actions might include staying connected by talking with, texting or calling a friend or loved one, healthy habits such as taking a short walk or stretching in the morning, or doing something enjoyable, like reading or spending time outdoors.   

It sounds easy, but often it can be challenging. Even though we probably already know the actions we should be taking to care for ourselves, psychological barriers can often stand in our way.  

What are the Barriers to our Wellbeing? 

A psychological barrier is an internal belief, feeling, or state of mind that can get in the way of achieving a goal. Common forms of psychological barriers include unhelpful beliefs, low motivation and difficult emotions.  

How we think can be one of the main psychological barriers to engaging in healthy behaviours. For example, we might think “It’s not important to have a morning routine” when we are busy. This can then lead to unhelpful behaviours, such as not eating breakfast or having a moment to prepare for the day ahead. Over time, we begin to feel exhausted and stressed.   

Indeed, there are also practical barriers that can make it difficult to prioritise these small daily actions, such as being time-poor, financial stressors, and family or work commitments. Whilst these factors tend to be out of our control, we can learn ways to overcome the psychological barriers to taking care of ourselves.  

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Let’s start with unhelpful thoughts 

Unhelpful thoughts can act as barriers to engaging in small daily activities for your wellbeing. You can start to overcome these by trying these 3 steps:   

Identify the thoughts that are getting in the way. Are any of these examples familiar to you?  

  • Others will think I’m selfish if I take a lunch break  
  • I don’t have any time to do something nice for myself  
  • My friends are probably busy so I shouldn’t bother them   

Challenge these unhelpful thoughts by questioning them and considering other perspectives using the below questions: 

  • Is there evidence to support this thought, or is it unlikely to be true? 
  • What would I say to a friend having this thought? 
  • What is a more helpful, encouraging way to think about this situation? 

Shift your unhelpful thoughts to a more balanced outlook 

  • I wouldn’t think my colleagues were selfish for taking a break. It’s important I take breaks too. Taking a break will help me to refocus and be more present when I return to work 
  • It’s true that I am time-poor at the moment, but I could do something small that is still enjoyable. I’m going to spend 15 minutes reading during my morning commute rather than checking my phone 
  • I know my friends are busy, but I can still reach out to say hi and arrange a time to see them soon 

It can also help to remind yourself that small daily actions of caring for yourself are not selfish. It is important to prioritise our own wellbeing, even in small ways. In fact, by taking the time to engage in small actions each day for yourself, you are in a better position to have the energy to support others.  

Find out more about boosting low motivation here and calming difficult emotions here.

What are some small daily actions for our wellbeing?  

We suggest doing activities that are meaningful and enjoyable for you, staying connected with others, and building up regular healthy habits. We encourage you to take a moment and think about which of these types of activities are currently part of your day to day, and which might you be able to add in to your daily routine?   

Listed below are examples of different small daily actions that you might like to try and add into your daily routine. You can ‘pick and mix’ the small actions that appeal to you, and try out different ones each day. Once you find those that work, try to prioritise time each day for your wellbeing by following through with the activity.  

Engage in meaningful and enjoyable activities: Identify something that’s important to you and make time for this activity each day. This might mean eating dinner with your family each night, making it a priority to read a book before you go to bed, ending the day with some journaling, listening to a new song, or trying the daily Wordle or Sudoku.  

Practice healthy habits: Take time to put your wellbeing first each day, whether it’s starting your morning with a 5 minute meditation or short walk, enjoying a cup of tea in your work or study break without checking emails, cooking a balanced and tasty dinner, or reducing screen-time before bed.  

Stay connected: Connecting with others is important for our wellbeing as social beings. You can try connecting in small ways, smiling at passers-by, booking in a catch-up with a friend, colleague or family member, asking someone how their day is going, sending a text or email to a friend, or otherwise.    

Further Support  

While we’d all like to improve our wellbeing, it’s not uncommon to have trouble overcoming our internal barriers without support. In this instance it might be helpful to talk to a mental health professional. They can help you identify the particular barriers and beliefs that could be holding you back and support you with taking steps to feeling better. 

Or, if you’re not sure where to start or are unsure of how you’re feeling, you can use our Take-a-Test Tool to check your levels of stress, anxiety, or low mood and see if you might benefit from learning specific tools to improve the way you feel. 

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